[Screen It]


(1999) (Julia Roberts, Richard Gere) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate None Heavy None None
Minor None None None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
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Mild Minor Minor Mild Minor

Romantic Comedy: After being fired for writing an article about a woman with a reputation for leaving grooms at the altar, a cynical reporter visits her small town to prove that she'll do the same to her latest fiancÚ.
Ike Graham (RICHARD GERE) is a New York-based newspaper columnist known for his often bitter diatribes about women. Divorced from his ex-wife, Ellie (RITA WILSON), who happens to be his current boss and editor, Ike may be a charming and handsome man, but his columns often elicit angry responses from his readers.

That particularly holds true for his latest. Faced with a pending deadline and hearing a story about a bride known for leaving several grooms standing at the altar, Ike pens an unflattering story about Maggie Carpenter (JULIA ROBERTS), a woman he's never met.

Unfortunately for him, Maggie responds to Ike's factual errors and ends up getting him fired. With the encouragement of good friend and photographer, Fisher (HECTOR ELIZONDO), who's married to his ex-wife, Ike then sets out for the small town of Hale, Maryland. Wanting vindication for his dismissal and smelling an even bigger story, Ike wants to prove that Maggie will do the same to her latest fiancÚ, Bob (CHRISTOPHER MELONI), the high school football coach.

Obviously neither Maggie, who helps run the local hardware store, nor her best friend Peggy (JOAN CUSACK) are happy to see Ike. Nevertheless, his charming ways soon win over the townsfolk, including Maggie's father, Walter (PAUL DOOLEY), and grandma, Julia (JEAN SCHERTLER), as well as the local baker, Betty Trout (LAURIE METCALF).

As Ike trails Maggie's every move and she sets out to get revenge on him, the two soon learn that both of them aren't what they seem initially seem to be and thus start falling for one another.

If they're fans of Roberts, Gere and/or romantic comedies (such as "Pretty Woman"), it's a definite bet they will.
For language and some suggestive dialogue.
  • JULIA ROBERTS plays a small town woman with a track record of leaving her prospective grooms stranded at the altar.
  • RICHARD GERE plays a cynical New York newspaper columnist who writes a less than flattering column about Maggie and then sets out to prove that she'll similarly strand her latest fiancÚ. After a while, however, he comes to like and defend her.
  • JOAN CUSACK plays Maggie's best friend, a hairstylist who initially dislikes Ike because of what he wrote about her best friend.
  • HECTOR ELIZONDO plays Ike's friend who married his ex-wife and encourages him to pursue the Maggie story.
  • RITA WILSON plays Ike's former wife and current boss who ends up firing him over the factual errors in his column.
  • PAUL DOOLEY plays Maggie's father who's become an alcoholic after his wife's death.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    In 1990, Julia Roberts, Richard Gere and veteran TV director Garry Marshall teamed together for the smash hit, "Pretty Woman." A modern retelling of the classic Pygmalion story (that also inspired "My Fair Lady"), the film launched Roberts' career into orbit, reinvigorated the romantic comedy genre and won over fans in both its theatrical and video releases.

    Since then, those fans -- as well as the three principals -- have been hoping that the "Pretty Woman" team would find a project that would allow them to reunite for another stab at the genre. Well, nine years later, the threesome (and Hector Elizondo who played the hotel manager in that earlier film) has re-teamed for "Runaway Bride." A standard, by the numbers romantic comedy, the question on everyone's mind regarding it is whether lighting can strike twice.

    While the film will certainly zap the box office like its predecessor and fans of the onscreen couple will undoubtably be blinded by the sheer star power and chemistry of the two leads, everyone else might find the proceedings somewhat pleasant, but certainly not as fun or magical as their previous effort. And if you didn't like that other film, you'd be advised to stay clear of this one.

    Some of that blame can be pointed at the script delivered by the screenwriting team of Josann McGibbon & Sara Parriott ("Three Men and a Little Lady," "Worth Winning"). It's nothing but a retreading of the familiar romantic comedy plot where the man and woman initially don't like each other. They then get to know one another, fall for each other, then split up (with the obligatory music montage showing them doing their separate things as time passes by) and then finally getting back together again.

    For those mad that I've ruined the plot, you would have to have lived in a cave (without cable) for the past decade or so not to be able to see the outcome of this film -- that lumbers down the road with all the subtly and mystery of an eighteen wheeler -- from the time the first reel starts or just from hearing that it's starring Roberts and Gere.

    For example, there's little doubt that Ike and Maggie will become romantically involved, but despite our subconscious rooting for that to occur (after all, most everyone likes happy love stories), the way in which it transpires is never believable. While we know that Ike's really a good guy deep down -- simply from the genre's obligatory conventions -- it's hard to accept his quick change into defending Maggie's reputation, let alone their quick to blossom romance.

    As such, very little, if anything, comes as much of a surprise -- except that someone has yet to figure out how to turn this genre on its head for comic effect (or even for just a simple change of pace) -- and for those who like predictable familiarity and absolutely no cinematic challenges, this film's for you.

    The rest of the blame for the production's lameness falls squarely on the shoulders of director Garry Marshall. The creator/producer of some of the more popular sitcoms of the 1970s -- including "Happy Days" and "Mork and Mindy" -- Marshall's film career really took off with the unexpected success of "Pretty Woman." Since then, however, he's delivered a series of -- how shall we put it politely -- quite abysmal films such as "Exit to Eden" and "Dear God."

    Perhaps "Pretty Woman" was a recent fluke, but Marshall misses the boat here and his maladroit handling of the material will probably turn off many viewers. The epitome of his overbearing directorial "touch" is a scene where Maggie's fiancÚ has Ike stand in for him as the groom during their wedding rehearsal.

    Anyone with at least 20/2000 vision could see the symbolism of Ike now representing the groom (since he and Maggie have been generating so many romantic sparks that fire extinguishers are probably sitting in the pews), but Marshall can't stop there. Instead he has Peggy make the all too obvious comment detailing such symbolism.

    Although some viewers might not mind that, such scenes are prevalent throughout the film. As a result, such heavy-handedness weighs down the production, thus preventing it from reaching the lofty heights it certainly wishes to achieve.

    For all of those warranted criticisms and negative qualities, however, the film manages to be moderately enjoyable simply due to the presence of Roberts and Gere. While some funny one- liners and scenes are peppered throughout the script, the sheer attractiveness of the leads' combined DNA (good looks, healthy hair, great bods, etc...) and the natural chemistry between the two keeps the film floating above the debris that's supporting it.

    Meg Ryan aside, Julia Roberts ("Notting Hill," "Stepmom") is the queen of the romantic comedy genre, and after some failed attempts at serious and/or dark drama, she's returned to the material for which she's best suited. That winning smile will always bowl over audiences, and Roberts delivers yet another fun performance proving yet again that she's clearly one of the best in this sort of film.

    While certainly not primarily known for his work in comedies or romances (other than "Pretty Woman"), Richard Gere ("The Jackal," "An Officer and a Gentleman") similarly delivers a winning performance with his subtly comic take on his character. Although it probably won't change the mind of those who find his expression and/or performances wooden, it's fun to see him in this change of pace role.

    Appearing in yet another Marshall film, Hector Elizondo ("Pretty Woman," TV's "Chicago Hope") doesn't get as a juicy a role as he did in the previous Roberts/Gere outing, and both he and Rita Wilson ("Sleepless in Seattle," "Now and Then") are pretty much relegated to minor supporting role status.

    Faring better is Joan Cusack ("In & Out," "Working Girl") as Maggie's small town best friend and hairstylist, Peggy Fleming (no, not the ice skater). While she's somewhat similarly restrained from really cutting loose -- and is thus nowhere as much fun as she was as the stranded bride in "In & Out" -- she's still a delight to see in any role occurring in any movie.

    Simply put, if you like Julia Roberts, Richard Gere or especially the two of them together in "Pretty Woman," you'll probably enjoy this film at least to some degree. While it has its moments and the chemistry between the two leads is both undeniable and unstoppable, one only wishes the script were stronger (something different, for goodness sakes -- and some better dialogue) and that someone other than Marshall would have been behind the camera.

    Certainly not the worst romantic comedy you'll ever see, but clearly far from the best, the film is moderately entertaining, but proves that while lightning may strike twice, the second bolt never feels quite as powerful as the first. We give "Runaway Bride" a 5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG rated romantic comedy. A few instances of mild profanity as well as some sexually related comments -- verbal and one written -- but no activity, earns this film its rating. One character is noted as being an alcoholic and other characters drink and/or have liquor in front of them.

    The two lead characters display some bad attitudes -- she leaves grooms stranded at the last minute on the altar while he writes disparaging remarks about her and then sets out to prove she'll dump her latest fiancÚ -- and some local townsfolk make fun of Maggie.

    Beyond that, the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we encourage you to take a closer look at the listed content.

  • Ike has a drink in a bar where other people drink, including a somewhat intoxicated man who gives Ike the tip about Maggie.
  • The next day people drink in this bar again.
  • Ike tells Ellie, "Don't knock drunk guys in a bar (as a story source), it means they're not driving."
  • While drinking wine, Maggie's father states that when he only sees one dog, he knows he's had too much to drink.
  • We see beer on the table as Ike joins Maggie, her family and Bob for a crab dinner.
  • As Ike sits down next to Peggy at a softball game, she informs him that he's sitting in Maggie's seat. As he picks up her cup from which he then drinks, he comments that it must be her beer as well.
  • After Ike warns Maggie that he'll call the sheriff about her illegally entering his hotel room, she says that's fine and to remind the officer that he's bringing wine to the luau.
  • We see Maggie prying a drink from her father's hand at a bar and then escorting him out to his truck where he then passes out on the seat. Maggie then tells Ike that her father has been drinking more and more ever since her mother died.
  • We also see a man drinking beer from a bottle sitting on an outside bench at the bar.
  • Back in New York, one of Maggie's former fiances drinks as does Ike.
  • We see a glass of wine in front of Ellie and a glass of beer in front of Ike.
  • People have drinks at a luau where Ike has a beer.
  • Maggie's father has a beer.
  • We see wine near Ike and Maggie.
  • Peggy stops by and asks Maggie if she wants to go out for a drink, but Maggie declines the offer.
  • People celebrate with champagne in a bar.
  • None.
  • Ike has some of both toward others (and briefly makes fun of small town life and the people who live there) and writes a less than flattering story about Maggie before ever meeting her. He then sets out to follow her every move to prove that she'll also strand her latest groom at the altar (he does, however, come around and start to like and defend her).
  • Maggie has both for stranding all of her grooms at the altar during their wedding ceremonies and for suddenly making out with another man in front of her fourth. She also flirts with Peggy's significant other (but does so somewhat unconsciously).
  • The local townsfolk, including Maggie's father, make fun of her tendency to strand her grooms at the altar (in several scenes, including a luau).
  • Maggie gets the key from the local hotel manager to go into Ike's room and take some of his belongings (to spite him).
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "One-eyed snake" (penis), "Schmuck," "Screwed up," "Slime ball," "Bite me," "Pain in the ass," "Jeez" and "Nuts" (crazy).
  • Peggy and Maggie offer to wash Ike's hair while he questions Maggie, but the two women instead dye his hair several vibrant colors.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 2 hells, and 2 uses each of "God" and "My God" and 1 use of "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Bob, a mountain climber, wears a T-shirt that reads, "Mountaineers do it against the wall."
  • Some female models briefly show a bit of cleavage.
  • Making a sarcastic comment that's not meant to be taken literally, either Maggie or Peggy says to the other "When you talk like that, it turns me on and frightens me."
  • As Maggie talks to the local priest in a confessional, she reminds him that "ten years ago you had your tongue down my throat" (he was one of the former fiances before he became a priest).
  • Ike comments about Maggie being topless in a public place and holds a photograph that presumably shows her that way (we only see if from a distance and can't see any details). Ike, however, can and comments that it must have been "chilly that evening" (referring to the state of her breasts).
  • As Ike awakens to find Maggie standing at the foot of his bed, he quickly sits up causing her to motion for him to stop because "I didn't come her to see Ike junior" (referring to his privates).
  • Maggie's grandmother states that Maggie isn't afraid of the wedding, but instead the wedding night. She then adds that "many girls are terrified of the one-eyed snake" and states that on her wedding night she took a knitting needle to bed with her.
  • Ike makes an offhand comment about foreplay concerning Ellie and Fisher.
  • We see a female dancer at a luau in a bikini top, and then see that Maggie's wearing a similar top underneath her Hawaiian shirt (and shows a little cleavage).
  • Ike questions whether Maggie was really interested in the sexual practices of locusts (that a former fiancÚ researched).
  • Ike and Maggie briefly but somewhat passionately kiss.
  • Maggie's grandmother states that she likes Ike's "tight butt."
  • When Peggy tries to figure out what a flock of geese flying in a V formation symbolizes, she throws out V for virginal, but Maggie shakes her head negatively for that.
  • We briefly see a picture of what looks like Mark Twain with a cigar.
  • It's mentioned that Maggie's father became an alcoholic after his wife's death, but nothing more is made of her demise.
  • Ike is divorced from Ellie, but no kids are involved.
  • Maggie's lack of self-confidence and her need to establish her identity through her intended husbands.
  • Ike's reported factual errors in his column about Maggie and whether readers should be cautious about everything they read.
  • Several older women hit Ike with their newspapers in different scenes (three total).
  • Ike uses his shoulder to bust through a locked door.
  • Bob punches Ike.

  • Reviewed July 27, 1999 / Posted July 30, 1999

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